• Project Title: The Effects of Various Macromolecules on Biogas Production Efficiency in Anaerobic Digestion

  • BASIS Advisor: Dr. Grove

  • Internship Location: University of Maryland, NES Lab

  • Onsite Mentor: Dr. Guangbin Li

The purpose of my research is to investigate ways to curb the effects of plastics on anaerobic digestion processes. Anaerobic digestion (AD), in these cases, takes wastewater and activated sludge as input, and through a complicated biochemical process, produces methane gas – a renewable energy – as output. The abundance of plastics and microplastics in wastewater, however, have shown to have negative effects on the ability to produce natural gas from AD. By finding effective treatments to negate the plastics, energy could be produced more efficiently, and in greater quantities. Finding ways to reduce the effects of plastics on AD could lead to an increase in clean energy gained through AD. This investigation aims to explore the impacts of plastics in wastewater sludge treated with AD technologies. Prior research has been done to investigate these impacts on a larger scale, but this research aims to analyze the issue on a closer biochemical level by first understanding what are the inhibitory properties of plastic that cause harm to the AD process, and later on asking if there are ways to modify the AD process to mitigate the effects of plastics. In conducting this research, I hope to investigate potential solutions to this problem, stepping beyond simply identifying and investigating it. I will be working at the Nutrient Energy Smart (NES) lab located at the University of Maryland.